Neighborhood Guide: Things to do in Kitsilano, Vancouver
The best cafes, entertainment, shopping, restaurants and more.
If you find yourself in a neighborhood with a surprising number of cyclists, joggers, and generally some of Vancouver’s most active residents, chances are you’re in Kitsilano. Welcome to the land of sports, beaches and vegetarian cuisine (but that’s not all there is to this charming part of town). Kitsilano, affectionately known as “Kits”, also carries the legacy of being the birthplace of Lululemon – a brand that has become synonymous with Vancouver.
Kitsilano is known for its lifestyle shopping, waterfront parks, and great food among many other exciting things to do.
Coffee is a typical morning rush for many Vancouverites, and at Kits it’s no different. After the morning workout or before hitting the water, soak up the sweet coffee aromas of Kitsilano’s unique cafes and grab a bite to eat at local vetted bakeries. For a great sit-and-sip experience, grab a coffee at Portrait Coffee Where Platform 7. The former is an art lover’s dream, with the entire cafe interior lined with framed portraits of the owner’s father. Dark wood tables and chairs illuminated by hanging yellow lights add to the ambiance of an old-fashioned art gallery, perfect for sipping coffee. Platform 7 is equally whimsical. The interior models an old European train station, making it one of the coolest places to have a cup of coffee.
For a more picturesque setting, go to Coffee Arbutus where, beyond the pretty red and blue exterior, you’ll find a glass display case with baked goods and a scribbled chalkboard menu of coffees and other drinks. If the bakery selection leaves you wanting more, Many Bakery and Café will satisfy your pastry and gourmet cravings.
Once the caffeine has settled, pack a picnic basket and head out for an afternoon in Vanier Park. The waterfront lawn is a great place to lay out in the sun, gaze across the water at Sunset Beach, and watch the boats and paddle-boarders come in and out of the cove. If it’s raining, the park has three museums to explore: the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, and the HR MacMillan Space Center.
From the park, stroll along the shore to Kitsilano Beach where you’ll find soft sand, beach volleyball, water sports, and a saltwater pool nearby. (You probably didn’t know these neat things about Kitsilano beach and pool, either). This beach was and still is a popular meeting place for many Vancouverites.
Still, if the beach isn’t your vibe and a game of tennis isn’t calling you either, take a walk around town and keep an eye out for the many cultural festivals that take place in the neighborhood throughout the year. In June you can find the Greek Day on Broadway and in July the Khatsalano Street Party. Throughout the summer, the Kitsilano Showboat Amphitheater will also feature shows.
Kitsilano has two main shopping streets: West 4th and Broadway. Shopping on these two store-lined streets will reveal an array of sports and sporting goods stores, sustainable fashion, curated boutiques and other quirky goods. You might also recognize a few big brands like Knix, Franc and Oak, The last scoop, lululemon and Mejuri you shop in this neighborhood.
For outdoor enthusiasts, be sure to stop at The meeting room for surfing, skiing and snowboarding equipment, Runners Hall for all things running and to billabong and reigning champion for quality sportswear. On the casual side of shopping, Anian and Icebreaker are sustainable stores worth visiting for circular fashion, functional clothing and quality fabrics. Shops organized as Hill Dry Goods, Gravitypope Bespoke Merchandise and The corners feel like the middle ground between saving and shopping. House of creators JNBY can also be found in kits, for those looking to splurge on a designer piece. For the shine and the bling, the new Mejuri store on West 4th street is as pretty as the brand’s Instagram feed and is a must to browse, even if it’s just window shopping. Blue Ruby Jewelry, tucked away inside Hills Dry Goods, also has some lovely accessories. As for the eccentric shoes, Miz Mooz shop and Gravitypop Shoes have colorful styles for every Vancouverite.
When it comes to food, Kits is an exciting mix of enduring local favorites and special-occasion splurges.
If you’re looking to celebrate or go a little more upscale, Kitsilano is home to At the counter for the classics of French bistros, fine Italian cuisine at La QuerciaModern Thai acclaimed to Maenamand contemporary Pacific Northwest at Anna Lena.
Global flavors abound in kits, from relative newcomer Delara for Persian dishes to Vietnamese dishes at Mr Red and pan-Asian dishes at east is east. Unsung heroes like The Ellis and OddFish also worth a look, while plant eaters will want to hit Chi and The cider house.
Japanese food lovers will want to check out Raisu for their superb boxes and bowls featuring dazzling kaiseki-style bites and fresh fish, Green leaf for its beautiful plates of aburi and nigiri sushi, and Moltan for his vibrant sushi creations. You won’t regret queuing for a bowl of ramen at DanboThat is.
Treat yourself to Their there (coffee and pastries), Rain or shine (ice cream), One (ice cream) and of Aphrodite (Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are loyal fans of their pies). Kits is also home to cafe and restaurant outposts of Vancouver’s popular restaurant empires, such as Tacofino, Tractor, Corner, banana leafand pure bread pastry shop.
The next time you fancy a day-long adventure, look no further than Kitsilano.
With additional reporting by Lindsay William-Ross